HC Deb 04 February 1818 vol 37 cc146-7

On the mo- tion forgoing into a Committee of Supply,

Lord Folkestone

said, that according to the ancient usage of the House, he took that opportunity of pointing out a recent alteration, by which the public were aggrieved he meant the alteration which had lately taken place in the mode of printing the Votes of that House. He had neglected to refer to it at the time of the renewal of the sessional orders, and he took the present as the most proper remaining opportunity for doing so. The House would recollect, that in the last session a change was made in the manner of publishing the votes, with a view to the convenience of members; and, on the whole, that change was beneficial. But there was one part of that arrangement which was injurious to the public; and that was the circumstance, that no petitions were printed in the votes, except such as were expressly ordered to be printed by a specific vote, which were published in an appendix. He was aware that a great number of petitions had been presented in the last session, and that the accumulation of these documents had been the chief cause of the extent to which the votes had been swelled, and the consequent delay which occurred in the publication of them. But he thought it a matter of respect which the House owed to its constituents and to the people, to publish those complaints which were transmitted to it, and delay might be equally avoided by the publication of these petitions, as a matter of course, "in the appendix, as the select ones now were. It was true, that in every instance in which any member had moved that a petition be printed, no objection had been made; but the very fact, that a question was necessary previous to the printing, made an opening for objections; and it was a fair matter of complaint, on the part of the people, that their requests, when received by the House were not printed as a matter of course. The Votes of the House were the only regular way in which its proceedings were made public; and the old votes seemed to be adapted to that purpose. He had not made up his mind to submit any motion to the House: but he had thought fit to put them on their guard against the consequence of a measure which might lead to an imputation, that they did not attend to the prayers of the people.